Few books about life inside the Central Intelligence Agency have been written by women, and none have the wit, suspense, and authenticity of Loose Lips, Claire Berlinski’s dazzling first novel about a love affair between intelligence officers.
New Yorker Selena Keller has just completed a doctorate in Oriental studies. Unemployed and dismayed by her dull job prospects, she sends her résumé to the CIA on a whim. Within weeks, she is contacted by an Agency recruiter, who asks her how she would feel about convincing another human being to commit treason.
Despite her checkered past, Selena passes the background investigation, the polygraph, and a battery of bizarre CIA aptitude tests. Living under cover as a government budget analyst, she begins her education in espionage at the Farm, the CIA’s covert facility.
All CIA officers must survive a demanding training program, and it is there that Selena becomes romantically involved with Stan, a brilliant but darkly paranoid fellow student with presidential ambitions. What happens next is a fascinating inside portrait of the Agency—how spies are recruited, how they are trained, who they meet, where they go, and most important . . . what happens when they fall in love, and begin spying on one another.
A wonderful, pitch-perfect roman à clef that blends satire, romance, and suspense, Loose Lips offers a unique insight into the culture of the CIA.
From the Hardcover edition.
Ultimately, however, Claire Berlinski agrees with Thatcher: There was no alternative. Berlinski explains what Thatcher did, why it matters, and how she got away with it in this vivid and immensely readable portrait of one of the towering figures of the twentieth century.
Europe, the charming continent of windmills and gondolas. But lately, Europe has become the continent of endless strikes and demonstrations, bombs on the trains and subways, radical Islamic cells in every city, and ghettos so hopeless and violent even the police won’t enter them. In Spain, a terrorist attack prompts instant capitulation to the terrorists’ demands. In France, the suburbs go up in flames every night. In Holland, politicians and artists are murdered for speaking frankly about Islamic immigration.
This isn’t the Europe we thought we knew. What’s going on over there?
Traveling overland from London to Istanbul, journalist Claire Berlinski shows why the Continent has lately appeared so bewildering—and often so thoroughly obnoxious—to Americans. Speaking to Muslim immigrants, German rock stars, French cops, and Italian women who have better things to do than have children, she finds that Europe is still, despite everything, in the grip of the same old ancient demons. Anyone who knows the history can sense it: There is something ugly—and familiar—in the air.
But something new is happening as well. Indeed, Europe now confronts—and seems unable to cope with—an entirely new set of troubles. Tracing the ancient conflicts and newly erupting crises, Menace in Europe reveals:
• Why Islamic radicalism and terrorist indoctrination flourish as Europe fails to assimilate millions of Muslim immigrants
• How plummeting birthrates hurtle Europe toward economic and cultural catastrophe
• Why hatred of America has become ubiquitous—on Europe’s streets, in its books, newspapers, and music, and at the highest levels of government
• How long-repressed destructive instincts are suddenly reemerging
• How the death of religious faith has created a hopeless, morally unmoored Europe that clings to anti-Americanism, anti-Semitism, and other dangerous ideologies
• Why the notion of a united Europe is a fantasy and what that means for the United States
In the end, these are not separate issues. Berlinski provocatively demonstrates that Europe’s political and cultural crisis mirrors its profound moral and spiritual crisis.
But this is not just Europe’s problem. Menace in Europe makes clear that the spiritual void at the heart of Europe is ultimately our problem too. And America will pay a terrible price if we continue to ignore it.
From the Hardcover edition.
In Lion Eyes, a fictional Claire–the author of a novel about love among young CIA trainees–is unsuccessfully dodging a deadly Paris heat wave and her even deadlier ex-boyfriend. When she receives an e-mail from an Iranian admirer who wonders how to obtain a copy of Loose Lips in his native city of Esfahan, Claire wastes no time in replying. Her correspondence with the mysterious stranger, Arsalan–whose name means “the Lion” in Persian–quickly becomes personal, then intimate . . . then obsessive.
As Claire heads to Istanbul to find relief from the heat, her electronic flirtation with Arsalan begins, inevitably, to consume her. The boundary between reality and her imagination blurs and then disappears. The Lion, meanwhile, is nurturing his own powerful fantasies about the author. To satisfy their growing passion, they agree to meet, back in Paris, but Claire soon learns that someone is secretly intercepting their communications.
Suddenly, Claire’s romantic dreams start to dissolve. As events take an unimagined turn, and as life begins menacingly to imitate art, Claire discovers that the Lion is not who she thinks he is.
Clever and witty, Lion Eyes showcases intriguing characters, exotic locales, snappy double entendres, clever spy games, and the forbidden pleasure of reading other people’s mail. Claire Berlinski (the real Claire Berlinshi, that is) expertly plots out chance and chase, love and lies, and brings it all together with intelligence, counterintelligence, and a dossier full of humor.
From the Hardcover edition.